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Iain Duncan Smith
Tory welfare-slashing minister Iain Duncan Smith should resign. It's been discovered that the millionaire architect of the hated 'bedroom tax', who lives rent free in a Buckinghamshire mansion, has illegally imposed the tax on social housing tenants not liable to pay it.
Exeter city council officers identified a loophole in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) regulations and wrote during December to 31 of its tenants to tell them that they were exempt.
Some of these people were due to be evicted or have already been forced into smaller homes.
Another council has identified 250 tenants who may be exempt. Nationally, it's estimated that over 40,000 council and housing association tenants who have had their weekly housing benefit (HB) slashed will have to be refunded! Yet the DWP (which is trying to close the loophole) is still trying to play this story down, saying that 'fewer than 5,000 people' are affected.
One person is too many! The bedroom tax should be immediately scrapped and with it all of the Con-Dems' vicious austerity measures.
Those tenants living in the same home and in continuous receipt of housing benefit since before 1996 (with no more than a gap of four weeks) are in fact exempt from a reduction in their benefit, as new legislation did not take HB regulations before this date into account.
Can IDS actually do anything without making a mess of it? Not if the huge government overspend and major delays on rolling out his equally hated Universal Credit are anything to go by!
Up to 660,000 people are affected by the bedroom tax. It seems that everyone may be exempt because councils need to show that they considered the issue of whether tenants had been receiving HB continuously since before 1996 - and councils will not have done that.
To make matters worse for them, most councils have not kept case data for the full 17 years, having changed in that period from paper to computer records.
Campaigners are advising people to appeal against their bedroom tax, since they may have to be given 'the benefit of the doubt'.
Labour leader Ed Miliband says an incoming Labour government will axe the bedroom tax. Why then are Labour-run councils continuing to persecute low income tenants in rent arrears from the tax with legal action and evictions? We demand that these councillors immediately scrap the tax and rehouse all those illegally evicted.
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition council candidates in the May elections are pledging to do that.
This loophole is big enough to drive a bulldozer through the hated Con-Dem policy. Alongside continuing our public protests let's see if we can encourage, support and deliver a mass wave of appeals to councils against this unjust and cruel tax.
Not only has the bedroom tax wrecked people's lives but it led Stephanie Bottrill to tragically and horrifically take her own life in May 2013.
It has now been revealed that Stephanie, who suffered from a long-term illness, should have been exempted from a reduction in her housing benefit. Iain Duncan Smith has blood on his hands!
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is an electoral alliance that stands candidates against all cuts and privatisation.
It involves the RMT transport workers' union, leading members of other trade unions including the PCS, NUT and POA, and the Socialist Party.
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Article dated 15 January 2014
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
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